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Digital Images and Repositories

The University of Sydney

The use of digital images in both teaching and research is now common across all higher education institutions. However the proper management of these images, in terms of image specification, preservation, description, access control and discovery is ad hoc. Such management is not just an issue of good digital asset management, it also relates to effective - and legitimate - use of such resources for research and study.

The Image workflow project, which was completed as part of the APSR RIFF framework in 2007, addressed the management and workflow issues of image collections within a distributed repository network, specifically between iSpheres and DSpace platforms.

The high level of collaboration within the APSR partnership was critical to the success of this project. This included the initial specification of requirements by the Reference Group, image specialists in fields of medicine, fine arts and biological sciences. The implementation of the RIFF submission service developed at ANU and the development of metadata mapping within the METS schema developed by the National Library of Australia were key aspects of the project. These were applied in the framework of open source repository services of iSpheres and DSpace.

Working through these kinds of open source platforms demonstrated the capacity for sophisticated discovery, exchange and re-use of images within a data commons framework.

The project is detailed in the final report by Tristan Gutsche, the technical lead of the project (see below). The report discusses the characteristics of image collections, the requirements of models that enable legitimate re-use of images, technical issues around interoperability between repositories; the requirements and issues of metadata mapping within the METS schema (including MODS, PREMIS and MIX); and some issues around interface design.

The project completed all the milestones and deliverables it set out to achieve.

The requirements for an image metadata profile identified a common set of management, technical and structural data that need to be associated with images. It is recommended that image collections upgrade their basic metadata sets to include these basic requirements. Customisation is also recognised as essential for effective image collections.

Implementation within the RIFF framework (including METS and OAI compliance) facilitated the sharing of images between collections, and enabled the re-use of images in highly functional services, such as iSpheres, and archival storage through repositories such as DSpace.

The project has also highlighted the need for better management of copyright and contract restrictions on images and their use with the goal for greater sharing. The recommendations in the OAK-Law report provide a strong step in this direction.

There is also a strong drive for more collaborative environments, which provide an added layer of context and sharing from the users perspective rather than the data store replication. This influence is primarily from the huge number of collaborative sites online such as Flickr, Facebook and mySpace.

This Image workflow project has demonstrated the successful implementation of the fundamental requirements for sustainable management and re-use of images within the repository environment – requirements that are the foundation for effective collaboration within the data commons


Project Manager: Ross Coleman
Technical Lead: Tristan Gutsche

August 2007
Read more Wiki
APSR Image Workflow Final Report by Tristan Gutsche, University of Sydney. December 14, 2007.
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